Jilly D.

Mad and menopausal

In Off-The-Grid Memoir on March 9, 2014 at 1:38 pm
Sam's babies

Sam’s babies

As the years passed on we found ourselves in a rut come March. Sam wouldn’t get away for a weekend much less a vacation because he had to tend to the animals and the fire, the solar panels and the windmills. The weather made him ornery, miserable, crotchety and downright mean some days. Complain about the cold. Announce the windchill factor. Stare out the window glumly. You would have thought the weather was my fault. Crying in his beer and doing the self-pity dance didn’t go very far with me.

Every time my voice got on a girly whine or I threw a hissy fit, Sam would let me know he expected me to suck it up and pull my weight. “No sense bitching. It gets you nowhere,” he’s said once if not a thousand times.

If I wanted to be strong and healthy, I knew he was right. But when he got to whining about the weather at the end of winter, I came to the end of my patience. We argued. About nothing. About everything.936213-R1-12-13A

When we argued it seemed as though my life fell apart. I wasn’t sure you could argue and not break up.

“I will let you know long in advance if I am going to break up with you,” Sam would reassure me. I didn’t believe it, because I wasn’t sure every time I got angry I wasn’t going to break up with him. I hated going to sleep angry. I couldn’t sleep angry. When we argued I’d get out of a good sleep cycle and start to feel really miserable.

“If I meet another woman and I am interested in her, I am going to tell you before I do anything about the other woman,” Sam swore. “I am not going to walk away from a really good long term thing with you.”

These words would come at the end of our arguments. He’s not a man of many words. I admit I did a number of things to really piss him off. Most were unintentional. My lack of common sense of about how things work and my absent-minded professor personality played a role, certainly. Leaving the coffeepot on the stove to burn. Forgetting to leave the pump on and running a boiler dry. Letting the fire go out while I read a book. The freezer door left ajar. Leaving a project right in the middle and move on to something else. Putting something right in the pathway where he walks.Ithaca NY May 29-June 9 2009 Trip 218

Our arguments got volatile. On two occasions, his parents intervened and Mother Warren took me home and put me to bed sobbing in their spare room overnight. New lessons in apologies and civil arguments.

March madness set in seriously the year I started going through menopause. I started to have hot flashes after the summer’s heat had passed. That winter I’d wake in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. My power surges made me a new force to be reckoned with in midwinter.

Sam had talked to his mother about the hormonal changes I was going through and what he should expect. What she said and what he heard were somewhat related. Janet explained that hormonal changes occur and some women take hormonal replacement therapy to minimize some of my symptoms he described to her. He heard there was a pill I could take to stop making me so angry and crazy.

In the middle of a March blizzard Sam started to pick an argument with me as we finished dinner. It escalated quickly with insults and angry accusations. I was mad and my mouth was in overdrive. Sam called his mother and said, “Get her out of here before I kill her.”

Chuck drove Janet down the driveway. I was mad. I was sick of being the one who had to leave; never would this feel like my home. It was always his house. His way.

557054-R1-19-20A_020“Jill, get in the car. You’re going home with us tonight,” Janet announced when she walked in the front door of the cabin.

That pissed me right off. “No, I’m not,” I said. “Sam doesn’t want to listen to me. Sam doesn’t want to hear anything I have to say. He expects me to listen to his complaining, make his dinner, wash his clothes, keep his house, tend his fire, bring in the wood, do the dishes, walk his dogs, and lay down like a rug so he can walk all over me. When he doesn’t get what he wants, he has to call his mother.” I took them both on at once. Chuck stood in the corner silently; my corner.

Janet’s eyes went wild and they flashed with anger.

“Mom, she’s just crazy. This menopause is driving me nuts. Tell her to go to the doctor and get her a pill,” Sam said.

“The two of you are arguing for no reason. He’s depressed and you’ve listened to enough of him. I’ve heard enough; get in the car, Jill.” Mother Warren was mad.

“NO. I am tired of this. My menopause is no excuse for your son being an asshole. There is no pill that is going to cure me of my problem. This is not my problem. This is our problem. The pills you are thinking about are ones my mother took; and they took her cervix in cancer. No thank you to you and your pills.” I was shouting. Sam, Janet and Charlie didn’t say a word.

Janet hadn’t known my mother had survived cancer or the risks I faced from hormone replacement therapy. I hadn’t wanted my mother to take them. I planned to let my body do its own thing naturally. I learned to ride hot flashes like waves in my own tropical moments.492703-R1-20-21A

Learning to weather the emotional storms of a farm in winter is an ongoing lesson; for both of us. There have been no more nights at Mother Warren’s and no more volatile fights. There is a lot more middle-aged melancholy in midwinter as we manage the rage against the vicissitudes of the weather and nature and time.

  1. Wow, Jill, open, raw and real! My menopause blended in with Paul’s illness, death and my grief…thank you for sharing again.

  2. Thank you, Jill. A real, live relationship in the making post. Been there. I miss my husband who died in 2008 and have felt some pangs over the things that weren’t perfect in our relationship before he died. But, like you and Sam, we loved each other and were working our way through a lot of the junk we brought into our relationship from our families of origin. He, nor I, were saints…just people trying to get real. Your post reminded me that after a particularly heated argument, Harold looked me in the eyes and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.” I still see the empathy and love in his eyes when he said that. Oh, by the way, he was his mother’s son, too. But that is what made him able to love a woman like he did.

    Thanks again for this post. Loved it!


  3. So honest and real. Anyone in a long term relationship can identify with this. As always, I love the way the very specific details of the season/weather/landscape are integrated with life inside.

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